Hi, everyone will have their own perspective about this issue. It is also one of the major concern for the IMGs around the world. And lot of us end up taking wrong decisions and repenting in the end.
Before deciding for anything consider this pros & cons :
Student Visa (MPH/MHA) :
PROs: 1. 5 yr visa, nonstop 5 yr stay in US.
2. can do research and even USCE simultaneously
3. develop contacts
CONs: 1. Fees, atleast 1 yr fees u will need to pay. may get scholarship for the 2nd yr but it depends on the uni.
cost of living in the campus. most of us need to work part time to cover that cost, so lesser time for usmle studies.
2. If u intend to complete that course u will be spending 2 yrs of ur life doing the course which ultimately wont help u in becoming a resident ! and if at all u r not completing it (which most of us do) u will waste ur money of ur fees paid also wont get any degree !!
SO JUST FOR THE SAKE OF THE VISA, GUYS I THINK ITS NOT WORTH IT.
B1/B2 VISA :
PROs: 1. comparatively easy to get.
2. more cost effective compared to the student visa. even if u ve to make 2-3 trips to US, its will be cheaper than thousands of dollars of semester fees in MPH.
3. no time wasting for GRE, TOEFL, and the application procedure.
4. We CAN DO observsership, externship, researchship on visitor visa.
5. One can also extend the stay for more 6 months with valid reason (check www.immihelp.com/visas/extend.htm for more info)
6. Developing contacts is not that difficult if u ve relatives there.
7. Have more time to concentrate on studies.
CONs : 1. can stay for max 6 months
2. not having a close relative (a proper place to stay) is one of the negative factor.
3. getting a single entry visa. (not a major issue- as now people r getting multiple entry and also there is no prob in getting the multiple entry the next time u apply)
So guys, its finally up to the individual to decide which way is best for him/her considering the options. No route is perfect. It has its limitations, but according to me visitor visa is better.
People do write in your views, experiences and suggestions about this issue.